The Monday Morning Memo: Sneak Past the Security Guard

Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

Doubt is what happens when the security guard of the rational, logical left-brain isn’t sure whether to accept an idea or not. But unlike his left-brain counterpart, the right-brain doesn’t make judgments at all. He isn’t concerned in the least about the plausibility of an idea; that’s the left-brain’s job. So when your idea is rejected at the door of the left-brain, just knock on Righty’s door. He’ll let anyone in. Once inside the mind, your idea can scoot over to the logical left-brain on the waterslide of symbolic thought.

There are several ways this can be done. One of them is to use an anapest: “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee.”* An anapest is a rhythmic pattern of syllables composed of two light stresses followed by a heavy third stress. (Anapests don’t have to rhyme, but often do.) Since anapests are inherently musical, they enter directly into the non-judgmental right-brain and upon crossing over to the left (via the dorsolateral prefrontal association area,) they often become stuck in the phonological loop.

In other words, you can’t get them out of your head. Ever notice how much easier it is to recall phrases that have a lyrical beat?

Relentlessly subjected to a constant barrage of advertising, the average person today feels like a juror in the O.J. Simpson trial with 900 exhibits, 433 motions and 126 witnesses providing an overwhelming glut of tedious data, facts and figures. In the end, most legal analysts agree that O.J.’s “not guilty” verdict swung on the relentless song of Johnnie Cochran to the 12, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

In the jury deliberation room, as the 12 tried to fit all the data into a clear, coherent picture, Cochran’s anapest echoed in their brains. Cochran further assured them repeatedly that “Simpson could not, would not, did not commit these crimes.” Had Cochran presented a rational, logical, left-brain definition of “reasonable doubt” to the jurors, O.J. would probably not be walking the streets today.

Where did Johnnie Cochran learn about the magic of the anapest? Most likely, it was at his mother’s knee. “Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish. If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish! And that’s why I think that I’m not such a fool when I sit here and fish in McElligot’s Pool!” Yes, beginning in 1937, the good Dr. Seuss used anapestic meter almost exclusively.

Alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood through the lining of the stomach, completely bypassing the body’s digestive system; that’s what makes it dangerous. Employing a rhythm, particularly an anapest, is like serving alcohol to a listener. But it’s just one of the ways that you can sneak a message past the uptight little security guard of the mind. I’ll teach you the others when you come to Wizard Academy.

* In this anapest by Edgar Allan Poe, the words “For” and “the” are light stresses, and the word “moon” is a heavy stress; this is the first anapestic unit. “Never” has two syllables, both light stresses, then “beams” is heavy; the second anapestic unit. “Without” has two syllables, both light, then “bring” is heavy stress; thus, anapestic unit number three. “-ing” and “me” are light, then “dreams” is heavy; the fourth anapestic unit, etc.

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